Special Event – Utopian by Design: On the Mythologies of Technosocial Practice

7 Apr 2016
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type
Special Event

Morgan Ames
Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society

Digital media technologies now touch the lives of the majority of the world’s population. The promises attached to these technologies – to ‘disrupt’ tradition, to ‘flatten’ social inequalities, to usher in a brave new technological world through ‘design thinking’ – circulate out of the Silicon Valley engineering firms that promote them around the world, retaining power even in the face of evidence that they can never be realized. Taking these kinds of utopian promises as a starting point, this talk explores the ideological underpinnings of digital media production and use.

I use the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project as a case study, reflecting on the mythologies that motivated the development of the ‘hundred dollar laptop’ in light of how the laptops were used in a model project in Paraguay. Developing a framework of ‘technological charisma,’ I show how technologies like OLPC’s laptop become ‘charismatic’ and what the consequences of charisma can be. This framework sheds light on similarly utopian trends across engineering worlds and gives us tools to critically assess their interactions with globalization, education, and culture.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  CSTMS

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